Two brother tandems will represent HCHS at state track meet in Lexington


Hunter Blevins (left) and Connor Blevins are among the participants from Harlan County at the state track meet Friday in Lexington.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Andrew Yeary (left) and Matt Yeary will represent Harlan County High School at the state track meet.

One reason for the success of the Harlan County track and field program through the years has been the family atmosphere that coach Ryan Vitatoe brought from day one.
This year’s squad has taken that approach to a new level as two sets of brothers will represent HCHS at the 2A state meet on Friday in Lexington. Hunter and Connor Blevins and Matt and Andrew Yeary are among the 23 members of the team to qualify for state competition after strong showings at the Region 5 meet last week at Harlan County High School.
“Establishing a family environment within my program has been my goal since I was hired at HCHS in 2008. I’ve always stressed the importance of peer support within my team, the inclusion of everyone regardless of skill, and trying to foster a sense of belonging for all those involved. I think we’ve been really successful in that across the years, and I take as much pride in that as I do in our wins over the years,” Vitatoe said. “Looking back, it’s amazing the number of siblings who have come through this program who have each competed in a state championship meet over the years. I believe we had eight different sets of siblings achieve this heading into the season with the Epperson sisters competing together at the state cross country meet in 2012. We’ve even had three siblings from a couple families who have qualified to compete at the state meet across the years. However, having two sets of siblings competing together in a single state meet is a first for us, and it’s quite a special moment for our program.”
Matt Yeary, a junior will be involved in three events at the state meet as he qualified in the 110 and 300 hurdles as well as being part of the 4 x 400 relay team. Andrew Yeary, a sophomore, is part of the 4 x 800 relay team.
Hunter Blevins, a senior, is the regional runner-up in the shot put and will be among the favorites in the state meet in that event. Connor Blevins, a sophomore, qualified for the state meet in the discus.
“I’m very excited. I’ve been working hard for this and this is what it’s all come down to,” said Hunter Blevins. “I love the thrill that comes with this type of competition. It’s all professionals now and I’ll get to test what I have with the best of the best. I can’t help myself from grinning and laughing when I get to compete in these types of events because I know my skills will truly be tested and I’ll have to earn every spot I get. I live for this type of competition in every sport or event I play.”
The Blevins brothers were also teammates the past two years in football with Hunter ranking among the all-time school leaders in tackles from his linebacker position while Connor excels on both the offensive and defensive lines.
“I truly am blessed to be able to compete one last time alongside my brother and give all thanks to God, coach Ryan Vitatoe, coach Arynn (Boo) Johnson, and coach Ron Daniels. Also qualifying for state was my main season goal for my sophomore year and I am very grateful I have successfully achieved that goal,” Connor Blevins said. “I am very grateful that I have one last opportunity to compete alongside my brother whilst both wearing Harlan County High School uniforms. After my highly poor performance in the shot-put event at region I doubted I would receive one more competitive competition with my brother but I am blessed to have received it. We have played alongside each other in every sport since the start of my high school career, everything from Friday nights under the big lights in shoulder pads and helmets to under the sun in track uniforms while competing against each other. As I have stated many times before, I truly am blessed to be competing with my brother one final time.”
“I’m so happy I get to share this experience with Connor,” said Hunter Blevins. “He’s always been my best friend, but through high school we have spend nearly every second of our lives together. I love him dearly and I’m happy I can compete in my final high school competition with him. And I am proud of his accomplishments. I may have the school record in both throwing events, but I can honestly say that I or anyone else has ever done what he has in discus and especially at the region events. He PRd on all of his throws back to back. That is unheard of. I’m very blessed to have a brother like him.”
“It is motivating to see how far me and my brother have come as runners and for us to share this experience is a great opportunity,” said Matt Yeary.
“As my biggest inspiration and my number one competitor, it’s exciting to be going to the state championship with him,” added Andrew Yeary.
Vitatoe said the experiences shared this spring will stay with both sets of brothers for years.
“These four young men have worked very hard and they deserve to be there. I’m so proud of them all. You can see them pushing each other each day,” Vitatoe said. “I’ve found Hunter and Connor at the pits throwing together well after practice hours trying to perfect their craft. Matt and Andrew, while in different events in track, are common participants during Sunday (optional) practices. Matt has been well established as a hurdler for several years, and Andrew has exploded onto the scene this season in middle distance. They all four set the tone for each other. The cool thing is they’ll look back later in life and cherish all the time they’ve spent together at the track and pits. It will be a fond memory.”